Saturday, September 20, 2008

Europeans rally in morning, trim U.S. lead

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Despite the decision by captain Nick Faldo to rest stars Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood, the European team closed the gap on the United States in Saturday's morning session at the Ryder Cup, cutting the American lead to 7-5 entering the afternoon four-ball play.

The Europeans got a huge boost from the team of Henrik Stenson and Oliver Wilson, who rallied from 4-down to upset Phil Mickelson and Anthony Kim 2 & 1.

Europe also got help when Miguel Angel Jimenez and Graeme McDowell won the 18th hole to salvage a tie against Justin Leonard and Hunter Mahan.

Ian Poulter and Justin Rose easily defeated Stewart Cink and Chad Campbell 4 & 3 while the American's only win came in a 3 & 1 decision by Jim Furyk and Kenny Perry over Padraig Harrington and Robert Karlsson.

“We're digging deep,” McDowell said. “We're over here to win the trophy.”

Faldo's strategy to sit Garcia and Westwood, saying he wanted fresh legs in the morning matches, could have backfired with the Europeans starting the day three points behind.

When Mickelson and Kim began misfiring, however, the momentum shifted. The Americans lost six of the last 11 holes in the match, often creating their own problems with wayward tee shots.

“For Stenson to turn that match around with Ollie Wilson, that is just fantastic,” Faldo said. “I said, ‘Just chip away, one at a time, one at time' and he really looked after Ollie Wilson. Just unbelievable.”

- Ron Green Jr.